Open Thinkering


#RIPDai: in memory of a good friend

Dai Barnes was my partner in crime. We’d posse up, steal some horses, perhaps rob a bank, and then have a dramatic shoot-out with the law. All the while on PS4 voice chat.

Not only would we talk about how much of a great game Red Dead Redemption 2 is, but also life, the world, and everything. Dai would swear like a sailor. We’d laugh. We’d tell each other stuff we probably wouldn’t have shared with other people.

Men don’t really call one another up and just ‘have a chat’, which is one of the reasons why I found recording the TIDE podcast with Dai so amazing. We recorded TIDE for just over four years, from March 2015 until this June. It was just like having a chat with a mate while drinking whisky, that just happened to also be a podcast.

TIDE didn’t come from nowhere. Dai and I met in October 2014 in a Newcastle coffee shop when he was up for an event. I hadn’t seen him for a few years, and had a actually forgotten he went barefoot. We talked about how we missed the good old days of EdTechRoundUp, which was between about 2007 and 2011.

Dai was a bit of an enigma. At the same time as there being layers and layers to him that you’d peel back as conversations unfolded, he also wore his heart on his sleeve. I’ve never known anyone like him. He was fiercely loyal, but (I’ve learned) also kept his friendship groups separate.

He was around a decade older than me, but it didn’t feel like that at all. Dai had such a youthful exuberance about him and I’ve never met anyone who had such an affinity with kids. It really was his mission in life to be the best educator he could possibly be.

If there’s anything that Dai’s taught me over the years, and I feel like he’s taught me a lot, it’s that there’s nothing so important as human relationships. He also taught me a healthy dose of pragmatism gets shit done. And finally, knowing a little of his personal life, he demonstrated how to keep it all together and show courage under fire. What a guy.

I miss him.

Dai Barnes passed away suddenly in his sleep after a camping trip with friends in Idaho, USA on the night of Thursday 1st / Friday 2nd August 2019.

Ways to remember Dai:

  1. Write a blog post (see Christian, Tim, Aaron), compose a poem, record a song, or paint a picture. You could share using the #RIPDai hashtag on Twitter.
  2. Contribute to the #barefootfordai hashtag on Twitter (and Flipgrid)
  3. A few of us a planning a memorial episode of TIDE for later this month for which we’ll be taking audio contributions. Whether you knew Dai well or fleetingly, please have a think about what you could say, and we’ll feature your contributions.

Finally, I’d like to thank Amy Burvall and Eylan Ezekiel for their love, support, and organisational skills. Also, the edtech community, whose outpouring of affection for Dai has been touching.

Please message Amy, Eylan, or me for Dai’s parents’ address should you wish to send something. I believe they are collecting tweets and other online contributions into a book.

7 thoughts on “#RIPDai: in memory of a good friend

  1. Thank you for this post Doug.

    Dai was one of those people where you get the feeling they know something more than everyone else. They have a secret that you don’t know. I think the world needs more of that.

    Thanks my friend. Thank you Dai.

  2. Doug. Thank you for writing this. I had no idea that this had happened until I read your post.

    Dai was a kind, funny and deeply engaging soul. I only met him face to face a couple of times but I felt that we were on the same page.

    I know that you struck up a close friendship… you honour him with your honest description of your friendship and his character.

    If there is anything I can do let me know.

  3. Doug, thank you for your words about Dai. I worked with him at St Benedict’s, Ealing and I remember him as fiercely loyal and supportive and liked and respected by all. He gave us lots of his time to support our ideas and projects. One colleague told me that much of their success in their PhD was owing to Dai’s support and help.
    Do you know if the funeral has already taken place please?
    If you could send me Dai’s parents address I would be very grateful.
    Thank you,

  4. Hi Doug

    I am in shock about this terrible news. Dai and me were very close during our college days, eventually leading to him being best man at my wedding. Not surprisingly from Dai, the speech on day will remain one of the most emotive I think I will ever hear. Sadly we gradually lost contact in recent years I would like to send condolences to family if you can share their contact details.



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